Are you planning a small gathering for Thanksgiving this year?  Keep reading to see how we celebrated our first “Tiny Thanksgiving” and why I think it is a great plan for this year.


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Close your eyes and picture Thanksgiving.  For many of us, you see your entire extended family crowded together at Grandmama’s house.  Everyone is laughing and reminiscing.  The kids are running around playing.  The mounds of food are piled high on the table–an accumulation of everyone’s contribution of their favorite dishes. People walk by and sneak bites.  Everyone hugs, kisses, shakes hands. A few arguments may break out at times, but are quickly extinguished by the matriarch of the family, which means Grandmama smacks you on the arm and tells you to shut up. We won’t be arguing on Thanksgiving.  At least that’s what I envision when I remember some of my past celebrations. 


And then things change:

People pass away

People move away

People get married

People get divorced

People have kids and grandkids of their own and start their own traditions at their own homes


Pandemics happen


Leaving old traditions in the past, can be painful.  New traditions are hard but can be fun.  Trying something different can even be a relief.  


For instance, how many times have you heard people complain about having to cook, or spend time with “those” family members, or travel, or watch fotball, or go hunting, or do anything other than rest and relax and get ready to go shopping over their Thanksgiving break? Maybe a change of plans is just what you need to refocus your attention on matters most to you this year. 

I say you have to do what is best for you and your family.   

Within the span of 10 years, my mom died, my remaining grandparents died, I got divorced and became a single mom, and I became estranged from most of my family.  Needless to say, my large family gathering had diminished to a table for two.  Fortunately, I began dating my now husband, so that table expanded to three.  

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving with 3 people? One of those being a 4 year old? Well, we decided on having a Tiny Thanksgiving.  

How to Host a Tiny Thanksgiving

Our Tiny Thanksgiving Menu

Our main dish was Cornish hens (see how to roast them here).  It was like each person had their own “tiny turkey”.  These are pretty easy to roast in the oven and take a fraction of the time of a traditional large bird.  And the best part? Everyone also had their own wish bone!  

For our main side dish, we had Mac and Cheese cups (Check out this cheesy recipe).  My Goose (my daughter, not an actual goose) was 4 years old and her other nickname at the time was Noodle.  Needless to say, we had to have some sort of pasta.  The Mac and Cheese cups were easy to make and tasted delicious.  

Bread was easy.  I just got pre-packaged dinner rolls.  

For dessert, we had our own fried apple pie (They looked a lot like these).  

It was a lot of fun and it was perfect for our “family” at that time. 


How to Host a Tiny Thanksgiving

Tiny Thanksgiving 2020

And now it is 2020.  My husband and I will be celebrating Thanksgiving with a small group of family members in a physically distanced manner. 

Luckily in the south, it is still warm in November.  It should be warm enough to set up a makeshift Thanksgiving table in the garage.  With plenty of space outside to spread chairs out, it is possible to enjoy the company of our small family without feeling like we are too close to each other. 

I’m reminded of our Tiny Thanksgiving and I’m thinking that those same recipes are even more relevant now.  We can have individual everything!  No one will have to share the dipping utensils and everyone can easily get what they want. 


I have been looking for even more recipes to try this year.  Here are some that I found that look delicious and will go on my menu!  Click the titles to see the recipes that inspired me.


Potato stacks: You can’t have Thanksgiving without some sort of potato!  Parmesan and Thyme make a delightful combination on any potato.  These little stacks might take a little extra time, but will be worth it.  If you don’t have a good mandoline, may I suggest this one?


Sweet Potato Stacks: Ditch the traditional sweet potato casserole smothered in butter, sugar, and marshmallows and try this healthier option! Rosemary and parmesan are combined to give these a lot of flavor without all of the sugary guilt!  It is my opinion that sweet potatoes are sweet enough all on their own 🙂 


Desserts: Ok, so there are enough recipes here to satisfy any sweet tooth! We do not eat a lot of sweets at our house, so tiny bite-sized desserts are perfect.  


Final Thoughts

Most traditional casseroles can be cooked as a tiny version just by cooking it in a muffin tin (I suggest silicone liners like these). Or, make your favorite sides and serve them in paper muffin liners (like mashed potatoes!). The posiblities are endless.  An added bonus? You won’t be scrubbing 20 casserole pans! I love win-win situations and anything to make my Life Between FEWER Dishes easier and allow me to spend more time focused on the people I am most thankful for. 

How are you planning on spending Thanksgiving this year?  If you have any recipe ideas to share, add them to the comments!  


  1. Lifebetweenthedishes

    I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving, even if it is tiny 🙂

  2. Lifebetweenthedishes

    I hope you and your husband have a Happy Thanksgiving however you get to celebrate it!

  3. Lora

    This resonates for me this year since a lot of our expected guests have cancelled! Maybe I will need to do a tiny Thanksgiving too?

  4. Kimberly Hamilton

    For the first time, I will be attending Thanksgiving with just my husband and I. My children all live in different states and decided to have their own ‘tiny’ Thanksgiving celebrations. I will miss the hugs and lively dinner table conversation, but this year is unlike any other. I live where it’s snowing at the moment. So, no garage parties for me! Thank you for putting this into perspective.

  5. Lifebetweenthedishes

    Thanks Jessica! I can’t wait to put our plan into action 🙂

  6. Lifebetweenthedishes

    Thanks Karine! It is my favorite holiday, no gifts, just food and family 🙂

  7. Lifebetweenthedishes

    Thanks Daphne! It is definitely going to require some creativity 🙂

  8. Lifebetweenthedishes

    I completely understand 🙂 I hope you have a great Thanksgiving however you choose to celebrate it!

  9. Jessica

    Great timing for this article. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Karine Gareau

    Love your article! Thanksgiving is such an important event in our family and we had to celebrate it someway also!

  11. Daphne Reznik

    What a great post- I think a lot of us will be in this situation and your ideas are helpful (and comforting!).

  12. Gabriela

    This is exactly what I was thinking about yesterday since its just me and my husband this year. You know since COVID19 wants to be a jerk. Thank you so much ❤️.


Hi! I'm Misty, the imperfect Mama behind Life Between the Dishes.  My goal is for you to find tools, tips, and resources here to help you maintain sanity through daily mom life!

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